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Fifth-ranked Indiana blows out Jacksonville 93-59

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Fifth-ranked Indiana blows out Jacksonville 93-59

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana continued its roll right through the small-school portion of its schedule Friday night - and its finally ready to start play in the rugged Big Ten.

Jordan Hulls scored a season-high 20 points, Cody Zeller added 16 and the fifth-ranked Hoosiers cruised past Jacksonville 93-59 in their final non-conference game.

The Hoosiers (12-1) have won three straight, all by at least 34 points.

Jacksonville (5-8) was led by Dylan Fritsch with 15 points and Jarvis Haywood with nine, but lost for the fourth time this season to a power-conference school. The Dolphins have now dropped four of their last six overall.

It certainly wasn't pretty.

For the second time this season, the Hoosiers struggled after a prolonged break. Two weeks ago, they lost to then-unranked Butler in their second game in 14 days.

On Friday, after taking a week off for Christmas, Indiana started sluggishly again. This time, the nation's highest-scoring team and second-best shooting team missed its first four shots and turned the ball over four times on its first eight possessions before finally settling down, taking the lead and eventually pulling away.

The Hoosiers couldn't even get Zeller to bail them out of that funk. The 7-foot center went to the bench with three points and three rebounds after drawing his second foul with 9:08 left in the half. He picked up two more fouls in the first eight minutes of the second half and padded his stats with a late scoring flurry - after the game was already in hand.

So the Hoosiers turned to their outside shooters.

Hulls got things started with a 3-pointer midway through the first half to make it 24-17, and when the 9-2 run ended, with Yogi Ferrell's steal and 15-foot pull-up jumper, the Hoosiers led 30-19.

Hulls followed with three straight 3s in the final 90 seconds, finishing the half with 17 points and five 3s as the Hoosiers took a 48-33 lead at the break.

That was all the short-handed Hoosiers needed on this night. Indiana played again without injured forward Austin Etherington, injured guard Maurice Creek and freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell, who missed his third straight game as the Hoosiers and the NCAA look into a compliance issue. Athletic director Fred Glass made the announcement in a statement less than an hour before tip-off.

Fortunately for Indiana, it didn't need any extra bodies to get past the outsized and overmatched Dolphins.

An 11-3 run early in the second half made it 63-41 and Jacksonville never got closer than 21 the rest of the way.

Five Indiana players finished in double figures.

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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

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Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.

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